Monday, March 2, 2009

Green Gold

Over 30 years ago I had a conversation with a stranger on the East Colfax bus in Denver about avocadoes.

“Yes, we had a huge avocado tree in California. When they were ripe we had to prop up the branches with boards so the tree wouldn’t cave in. We’d fill brown paper bags over the top with them and transport a bag full to each neighbor.”

Its stories like this that have swollen the population of California over the years.

I still haven’t seen an avocado tree in its full glory. A few times I’ve sprouted the tan, oval seed mined from the center of a store-bought avocado and grew a baby tree from it. I didn’t dare imagine this spindly thing ever bearing fruit. But then my Capitol Hill apartments weren’t California.

I never tasted an avocado or guacamole growing up in Minnesota. Somehow it didn’t fit into our austere diet of meat and potatoes. And even in college I didn’t have the pleasure. Maybe in those days Colorado was just close enough to California to ship them here. I’m so glad they did.

When Charlie and I took a budget trip to Mexico, we rode buses and dined freely on avocados. For lunch we would open up a couple of them with our Swiss army knives, sink the blades into the seed to extract is and squeeze limes into the bowl where the seed had been, followed with a pinch of salt. Yes, that was simply delicious.

That silky smooth, oily moist green avocado experience really appeals to my love of slimy foods. Not everyone shares that food preference. My step son Josh swears that he’ll never eat avocados again after once having them in his mouth. And he even lives in California. I trained my babies to like it at a young age, mashing the avo together with tofu and a little tamari.

One of my attractions to a fantasy life in Hawaii is about avocadoes. Last fall when we visited the Big Island, Victor & I stopped to buy a famous chocolate-covered treat called Donkey Balls. The perky woman with long blond hair who received our payment was excited about growing her own food. She said it was a challenge with tropical bugs, fighting back the jungle, and preserving the excesses of harvest. I asked her if she grew avocados. She smiled and said, ”Wait here.” The wooden screen door slammed behind her as she rushed out and returned several minutes later with 3 avocados in her hands.

“Here, try these.” They were each a different variety. Later, at the condo, we ate them with our grilled fish. Yum. I especially like the smoky flavored kind.

I look forward to smelling avocado blossoms someday.

--by Terra Rafael

No comments: